OTTAWA (ODB) — The Ottawa Avnet Gargoyles were still stewing long after their controversial 9-8 loss to the Acadiens Thursday night, in a game that ended on a bizarre bang-bang play at the plate in which the Acadien runner should have been called out.
“That was absolute (nonsense),” fumed Gargs catcher Mark Brennae, using a word that seemed more to rhyme with “bull spit.” “I had him tagged out and (the runner) reached into my glove and dislodged the ball. How everyone could see that but not the home plate umpire is beyond me. That was absolute garbage.”
Mark was furious following the play — and with good reason.
Whatever home plate umpire Don Dinkinger was looking at was remarkably different than what was witnessed by everyone in press row, as well as the assembled crowd of eight at a steamy Carlington Park.
“I asked him why he didn’t call the runner out, not just because he was tagged, but because he reached into my glove and stole the ball before I could secure it with my other hand and all the umpire could say was: ‘I didn’t see it.’ ” a livid Brennae said, immediately following the game, which resulted in the Gargs’ 19th loss of the season.
“ ‘I didn’t see it? I didn’t see it?’ What the hell did he see, then?” continued Brennae. “I yelled at him that he called a pretty good game but there was no excuse for that horse—- call,” said the catcher, still seething. “Horse—-. Just horse—-.”
With runners on first and third and the score tied at eight, an Acadian batter belted a high fly ball to centre field. Gargs centre-fielder Matthew Stephenson caught it and unleashed a perfect throw to the plate that arrived at the same time as the runner. Brennae appeared to catch the ball with his glove directly touching the baserunner’s torso and as he lifted the leather to show possession, a basketball-like tug of war for the ball ensued. And with Brennae now leaping over the legs of the sliding runner, and his glove moving upward, the ball flew out, but not before the tag was clearly made.
“I usually get my right hand right on the ball inside my glove to prevent that kind of thing but the way it happened, so quickly, I didn’t have time to get it in there. That’s when I saw his hands go into the glove just enough to pry it loose,” Brennae said.
“I don’t blame the runner, although it’s a bit of a bush play, but I certainly don’t know how an umpire couldn’t see what we all saw. I don’t care where he was standing — it was pretty f—— obvious,” stewed Brennae.
The unfortunate call was heart-wrenching for the Gargs (2-19), who had played a decent game and had dramatically battled back to take an 8-7 lead in the top of the seventh.
With two out, Norm Wong grounded to third but was safe at first when the third baseman threw wildly to first. The next batter, Stephenson, hit a sharp bouncer to short which the shortstop booted, allowing both runners to move up to second and third, respectively. Brennae came to the plate and, following a fastball that perhaps should have been strike three, the Gargs’ catcher drilled a 2-2 pitch over the left-fielder’s head for a double to drive in both runners.
The Acadiens got a bunt single, followed by a solid single and then another, to tie the game, leading to the ensuing fireworks.
It would be easy to say the Dinkinger call was the turning point in this one but as most students of the game know, there are always other places to look when searching for reasons of failure.
With Todd Duckworth (L, 0-9) pitching a tidy, economical game, the Gargs defence made three errors in the third, leading to five runs and a 5-4 Acadien lead.
The Gargs also loaded the bases but came up empty in the fifth.
“We did a lot right,” said Matty. “But we did a lot wrong.”
The game featured some fine fielding from Wong and Karl Bélanger, who tracked down a fly ball to make a tremendous diving catch well behind first.
On offence, Brennae and Zach Schowalter each drove in a pair and Mathieu Gauthier belted his first OCSL home run, a heck of a swat, off the scoreboard in left field, which at the time, gave the Gargs a 4-0 lead. But the Gargs only produced six hits on the night and that, not a “horse—-” call was the difference in the game.
Gargs Largs: When the Gargs took the field in the bottom of the seventh to protect a lead, it was the first time they had done so all season . . . The Gargs had six hits, seven bases on balls and were the beneficiaries of three Acadiens errors. That’s 16 baserunners, half of whom were stranded . . . Théo Gauthier made two terrific plays in the second inning to reach for throws from the left side of the infield. The adroit first-baseman stretched to help record the outs and to save a couple of would-be errors. Rob Lafontaine and Zach can thank T for those plays. T also made a nice play to handle Mathieu’s throw to first from right-field for what appeared to be a double-play. Alas, the umpires, following a lengthy conference (all the Gargs were in the dugout and preparing to bat) ruled he placed his foot fully on the orange side of the bag, negating the out. The Gargs retook the field and Todd retired Jean-Guy on a bouncer to second which the Acadiens’ hurler didn’t even run out . . . The Gargs play a double-dip Tuesday (7 p.m. and 9 p.m., Hampton Yards) against the Wings and Ollsons, respectively.
Rob Lafontaine 1-3, run, BB
Norm Wong 0-3, 2runs, BB
Matthew Stephenson 0-2, run, 2BB
Mark Brennae 2-3, run, 2B, BB, 2RBI
Zach Schowalter 1-3, 2RBI, BB
Karl Bélanger 0-3
Ken Wong 0-2, run, BB
Théo Gauthier 1-3
Rick Devereux 0-3
Mathieu Gauthier 1-3 HR (1), 2runs, 2RBI
Todd Duckworth (L, 0-9) 6.1 IP, 9 runs (5 earned) 8H 1BB 1K
Gargoyles 3 1 0 2 0 0 2 8 6 4
Acadiens 0 0 5 0 2 0 2 9 8 3